Sperry Rand Corporation. Univac Division.
Hagley Museum & Library
Manuscripts & Archives Department
P.O. Box 3630
Wilmington, DE 19807-0630
14 linear ft.
On April 5, 1968, Sperry Rand filed suit against the Control Data Corporation (CDC) claiming that CDC had infringed on Sperry Rand's ENIAC, EDVAC and UNIVAC patents. Specifically, Sperry Rand claimed that CDC was required to license the magnetic drum storage technology that it was using in its computers. Sperry asserted that this technology had been developed by John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert when they were working on the first generation of electronic digital computers at the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Electrical Engineering and at the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation. When Sperry Rand absorbed the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation in 1950 it claimed that it bought patent rights to this digital computer and magnetic storage technology. CDC claimed that the magnetic storage technology in question had in fact been developed by Engineering Research Associates during the 1947-1952 period when ERA was working on the top-secret Project Goldberg for the U.S. Navy. Project Goldberg led to the development of the first electronic digital computer, known as the Atlas, which was delivered to the Navy in the fall of 1950. In 1952 John Coombs and Arnold Cohen of ERA were granted patent rights to magnetic drum technology. ERA itself was absorbed by Sperry Rand in 1952, but it never acquired the patents in question. In 1957 many of the former ERA group led by William Norris left Sperry Rand to organize the Control Data Corporation. On April 15, 1975 the Federal District Court in Baltimore County, Maryland upheld the Control Data Corporation's position. The records of the Sperry Rand CDC case includes plaintiff's and defendant's briefs, pleadings of selected depositions (John Mauchly, Arnold Cohen, John Vincent Atanasoff), attorney correspondence, and exhibits. The exhibits addressed the issue of who invented the magnetic storage drum. There is a copy of ERA's 1948 contract with the Office of Naval Research to build the Atlas computer, Project Goldberg progress reports, laboratory notebooks of ERA engineers Arnold Cohen, William Keye, Lowell Brown, and Dr. Donald Dubbert, and 1947 report by Arnold Cohen, "Internal Storage by Magnetic Recording". Also included are copies of Eckert and Mauchly's notes on memory systems and delay storage, as well as progress reports on the EDVAC computer which was developed by the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation and the lawyers for Sperry Rand claimed was the first computer with stored-memory capability.